"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." James 3:5 (NIV)
My husband needed some diesel fuel for the tractor so he asked me to pick up some on the way home. He had put the gas can in a box in the back of his truck. Now, I'm 5'2", so things that taller-than-me folks can do become a bit more of an issue for this vertically challenged gal. I pumped the gas into the can then tried to lift it, not only up to the bed of the truck, but over the top edge of the box. It was then I discovered the little valve cover was open.
At least a cup's worth of gas escaped through that tiny opening and strategically ran from the top of my t-shirt to the top of my pants. When I got home I scrubbed and scrubbed in the shower hoping to get rid of the smell, but the stench of gas remained in my nostrils.
My lips are like that little valve. It is such a small opening, yet the fuel that escapes can be unpleasant, caustic and even deadly. Loose lips have snapped at my family. Harsh tones have left friends feeling poisoned. Careless words have killed the spirit of a vulnerable child.
The book of James tells us that our tongue is like a restless evil full of deadly poison. Ouch! My husband didn't want me to spill that gas; we wanted to use it for good. God doesn't want our tongues to open unless they are going to encourage and spur one another on.
Several years ago I made a very small, but very life-changing decision. When a hurtful thought comes into my head, I tighten my lips and force a pause button to appear in my brain. When I allow myself to have just a second to think about the potential hazard that could come from 'speaking my mind' it gives the Holy Spirit time to check my heart and motives. In that pause moment I say, "Lord, take control of this tongue." And He does.
Do I get it right every time? No. But I can see fewer wrecks in my life, fewer wounds, fewer poison-tipped darts flying out of this mouth. And I no longer reek of gasoline I added to the fire.
Want to join me? Pause. Seal up the valve and allow the Holy Spirit to work for good through the words you speak.
Dear Lord, thank You for reminding us that our tongue can rip a heart apart, or seal it back together. Teach us to pause long enough to give Your Spirit time to work in and through us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.